SMS vulnerability in Nexus phones revealed


It was announced earlier at the DefCamp Security Conference in Bucharest that a dangerous SMS vulnerability has been revealed. This vulnerability can be exploited to impede cellular connectivity or to force a reboot on any Nexus device. Bogdan Alecu, one of the system administrators at Levi9 discovered how a malevolent party can destabilize a Nexus phone by exploiting this obscure SMS vulnerability, causing it to behave erratically.

By simply sending a series of Class 0 messages to a Nexus device, a person can overload the phone’s system, causing it to crash. Class 0 messages, also called ‘Flash’ messages, are emergency and / or security messages sent for administrative purposes. These messages do not make any sort of noise when received, although they dim down the phone’s background while displaying a dialog bos on the screen. If whoever sends these messages can send 20 or 30 of them one after another, they can cause the phone to crash by overloading its system.

According to Alecu, the current form of attack can only destabilize a phone, but he fears that in time, this vulnerability would be used to force remote code execution at some point. At the moment, only Nexus phones running stock Android versions are affected by the issue, as none of the OEM versions crashed when targeted. Still, this is something that Google should probably look into very soon, so it wouldn’t be much of a surprise if they roll out a fix for the issue with their next update.